Williamson County Schools officials express concern over postholiday COVID-19 rise

Masks are required in Williamson County through at least Dec. 29. (Courtesy Pexels)
Masks are required in Williamson County through at least Dec. 29. (Courtesy Pexels)

Masks are required in Williamson County through at least Dec. 29. (Courtesy Pexels)

As families prepare for the holidays, local officials are preparing for the effect gatherings may have on the number of coronavirus cases in the area.

During its school board meeting Nov. 16, the Williamson County Schools board of education heard concerns from Superintendent Jason Golden about the recent rise in active cases in the county.

"Over the course of this semester, we have seen examples of postholiday numbers going up on campus, and we’re concerned about Thanksgiving. [Active cases are] going up already," Golden said. "We are talking to the health department tomorrow about the impact on the county ... and having a conversation about what this means for us after the holidays."

Active coronavirus cases in Williamson County are at 1,723 as of Nov. 16, an all-time high for the county.

According to Golden, about half of all middle schools and high schools in the district are currently closed, with students learning remotely.

Golden said while the district does not have a set number of cases the district would have to reach to go fully remote, there is a possibility that could happen should cases continue to rise.

The district no longer utilizes its green, yellow and red coding to measure when students would be moved to remote learning.

However, he said the district will continue to only close individual campuses as needed rather than going fully remote for as long as possible.

"Because not every school needs to go remote, we are not going remote at this point," he said. "We found over the course of these months that the health department in our capacity is really good, and generally speaking, it’s worked."

Golden said while he realizes many residents may be getting tired of hearing messaging about the importance of masks, continuing to abide by the countywide mandate inside schools and in public is key to keeping students in school.

"People are getting tired of that message, but there’s a reason why we keep repeating that message because it’s important to our community to have our schools—as much as we possibly can—in session serving our students," Golden said.

Golden said the district is continuing to explore alternatives to having students on campus, such as a hybrid model for high schools in which students attend in person on alternate days. Testing days and locations have not been announced for such testing.

"I think it’s very important for everyone to know that we’re still exploring possibilities for where we go through the rest of this year," he said. "We still don’t know what the future holds. We’ve had these moments of hope where the numbers go down and these moments of angst when the numbers go up. We’re at a time when the numbers are going up."
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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